Where’s Ward? On the Road with Loralee (8)


Loralee Ward, Staff Writer

This has undoubtedly been the worst trip that I can remember. We left home on Wednesday, February 8. We stayed at a friend’s ranch for two nights as I drew slack* in Belton, TX, on February 10. By Thursday, however, the precedent for the trip was established when my horse Dupree came up with an abscess.

Abscesses are extremely painful for horses. They cause horses to go from one hundred percent to completely lame. Once they break, however, they are almost instantly better. On Thursday afternoon, I let Dupree out into an arena to stretch his legs. Within a matter of minutes, he was “three-legged,” meaning non-weight bearing on his front right foot. We immediately loaded him into the trailer and took him to the vet. The vet confirmed Dupree had an abcess and took ultrasounds/X-rays to confirm no other injury. She said the abcess would break within three days and then he could resume competing.

In Belton, I ran my backup horse Muffin. I no-timed (failed to complete the pattern). This has never happened in the three years I have owned/run Muffin. I figured this was a fluke and carried on to Starkville, MS. Dupree’s abscess also kept him from running in Starkville so I ran Muffin again. Hit barrel. Alas, we went on to Hattiesburg, MS, for a jackpot barrel race (February 11-12). No money won. After the barrel race, an on-site veterinarian checked Dupree. He gave us the same diagnosis: abscess. We continued to treat it as such.

We laid over at a friend’s house for Monday night in McCool, MS. Dupree’s abscess appeared to have broken. He looked significantly better. I decided to run him the next day in Jackson, MS.

Dupree made an okay run—not his typical performance though. When I went to stop him, I knew something was very wrong. Dupree could not walk. He held his front right foot in the air.

I walked him back to the trailer as he limped behind. We figured that abscess’ exit spot (back of the heel) caused the lameness. The horse’s heel resembles the human achilles tendon. The heel is a sensitive area, which justified our thinking that any amount of pressure created Dupree’s post-run reaction. (Story to be continued)

*Slack: a rodeo term used to describe the overfill of entries not in a typical performance; usually takes place at obscure hours